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Whether Mr. N., at the time of what he now sneeringly calls his conversion, was actuated by delusive enthusiasm or mercenary hypocrisy, whether the old sores were slightly skinned over or only plaistered up, it is certain that the virus of scepticism was by no means finally expelled. After procuring himself “ entered on a plan” "as a local preacher, (a preliminary, though gratuitous rank in the methodist system) his principles reappeared; the eruption, however, was repressed, before it became very evident or infectious. As he was unable long to conceal his old principles, so he could not preserve a consistency of conduct with his new ones. We cannot go into details, it is not our office to draw up indictments. After various shifts, offences, and adventures, our hero finds it expedient to change his residence; and, instead of being expelled from the connection, withdraws. Afterwards he fixes among some enthusiastic persons, called Revivalists, a secession from the regular Methodists, a kind of excrementitious efflux of morbid matter, by which the general system is purified from disease. Mr. N. was a preacher among these separatists, and we believe drew up their rules, which he refers to, in an obliquely complimentary manner, at the conclusion of his work p. 490.). His retreat to Socinianism, it will be perceived, was rather devious;
he took the society of Friends in his way ; but the terms of their novitiate were too long and too rigid for his patience. He is now a preacher, we are informed, (perhaps only an occasional one) among the Unitarians; and in the specimen of his authorstaip now before us, there are many symptoms of a sneaking kindness for his old friend, Thomas Paine. His frequent ridicule of
prayer, his burlesque of devotional feelings, his indecency, his profane allusions to the Divinity, his continual jesting with the scriptures, his foolish slang about the “ eternal laws of order” and “inseparable concatenation of cause and effect," in opposition to the doctrine of particular providence, his notion that Methodism may just do to civilize the Moo, are all remarkable symptoms, not indeed peculiar to himself, of a tendency to infidelity.
It is however uncertain, at present, whether Mr. N.'s oscillation will ever begin again ; he laudably hesitates to avow his predilection for the hopeless and unprofitable cause of Deism, and is still retained at a slight distance from it, indubitably by some pure and powerful principle. He now affects to be the advocate of Socinianism ; a system which, after pbtaining the countenance of such a name, will surely never more be required to prove its rationality and holiness. He addresses these very " Letters,” it is understood, to " a Lady," usually
looked up to as the Queen of what she appropriately styled “the frigid zone of Christianity.” It should seem from Mr. Nightingale's facetious familiarity with this respectable Lady, that unwittingly she had even permitted him to address her on this occasion,-a permission, which she cannot but have deeply regretted, on witnessing, not only the profane jocularity of her correspondent, and his indelicate insinuations, but the bold and assured manners which indicate his certainty of possessing her good graces. To be publicly accosted as “ Dear Madam,” and “My dear Madam," by such a person as this, must no doubt have made her extremely fidgety," (the identical term he uses respecting her! p. 248) as she would feel how likely it was to produce on the public a very unfavourable and groundless opinion of her character. We can easily imagine how much irritated and abashed she would be, at the account which her friend thus publicly gives her of an infamously lewd and treacherous wretch, who was expelled from the Society by Mr. Wesley in 1751, and especially at the amicable and sportive appellations under which he is mentioned to her as “ a sad rake among the Ladies !” a “Methodistical Adonis !"--Mr. N. describes the “ society-meetings," and“ watch nights,” and “ love-feasts," in language studiously but ambiguously indelicate; slyly attempting by this dialect, and the phrases," I leave you to judge, ” "I forbear to relate,” to introduce into the mind of this amiable matron, ideas which he is too delicate to defile his own pages with! All this he calls a sparing her modesty.”
It is evident that Mr. N. wishes to excite suspicions against the purity and propriety of these meetings, yet to avoid at the same time the disgrace of a detected calumniator. Unhappily for him, his admissions fully disprove in fact, whatever his suppositions and doubts and hopes and insinuations and“ juscious” descriptions attempt to establish in probability; the reader gives him full credit for the intention, while he discerns the futility, of his malice. It is not difficult to conjecture, whether Mr. N's abstinence from vulgar obloquy and evident falsehood should be ascribed to delicacy, conscientiousness, or cunning. The discreet poisoner does not exhibit crude arsenic. Instead of directly reviling Mr. Wesley and his friends, this author ușually degrades them with an appearance. of impartiality and an air of doing justice. He does not expressly accuse them of sedition, but ranks thein among “ the combined armies against the Church of England.” He takes care, however, not to bring into view that strong bias in favour of passive submission to arbitrary power, which we have always considered even as a fault in the character and code of Mr. Wesley, but which is not very consistent with
imputations of disloyalty.-On some occasions, he prefers quoting the calumnies of their enemies, which he tries unsuccessfully to refute. On the other hand, he does not teach Socinianism; he only extols it, and recommends the books which teach it. There are some extravagancies and indecorums, it is true, which Mr. N. broadly asSerts to be common in the Methodist connexion. Among so large a body of persons, many of whom, however upright and pious, necessarily are úncultivated by education or commerce with the world, it is not surprising that there should be ground, in many instances,
for some of these accusations. We have not the smallest doubt that these blemishes, which Mr. N. acknowledges the preachers strenuously discountenance, are grossly exaggerated and caricatured ; and we are almost persuaded, that Mr. N.'s Portraiture of Methodism is taken from his quondam friends, the Revivalists.
It would seem idle, now, to dwell on the literary faults of this volume; the excessively aukward, irregular, and obscure plan ; the clumsy introduction of the “ Letters;" the obvious violations of grammar. No defect of this kind is of much importance, in comparison with the spirit and tendency of the publication ; but it may be necessary just to notice them We do not suppose that Mr. N. has taken the trouble of writing a great book merely to exercise his rancour against the Methodists; it is much more probable, that his undertaking arose from an eagerness to make advantage of the only species of information that he possessed, and a conjecture that a work of similar title to Mr. Clarkson's Portraiture of Quakerism, (Ecl. Rev. vol: III. 318) might cling to its predecessor and smuggle itself into popularity: How to treat this subject was the difficulty. Nothing could be more dull than a chronology of Mr. Wesley's life, or a detail of the Methodist institutions, without the animating spirit of piety. In this dilemma, prudence concurred with enmity to suggest that the dullness would be effectually relieved by avoiding a systematic plan, adopting a general tone of ridicule and sarcasm, and introducing scandal and indelicacy. The consequence, however, of this policy is, that Mr. N.'s book is good for noé thing; it is useless, in the first place, because the ample internal evidence against the integrity of the author is fatal to its credibility ;-it is useless to the general reader, because it affords no distinct view of the history of the Methodists, no plain intelligible exposition of their constitution, no prominent and forcible delineation of their peculiar character, no estimate of their worth as members of the civil community ;-it is useless to the theologian, because it contains no account of
the practical influence and tendency of their creed and of their polity ;-it is useless to the Methodists, because they will not believe truth itself from the lips of such a teacher, they will feel no compunction under his reproaches, they will derive no improvement from his advice.
Having felt it necessary to expose the tergiversations of this religious weathercock, we cannot quit the subject entirely, without solemnly intreating Mr. N. to consider how far certain expressions * in Scripture are applicable to himself, or indeed to what other character they can be more applicable. friends, however, will very probably console him by observing that these passages are interpolations, that the books are not. canonical, or that the writers were apt to “ reason inconclusively.” “ When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none; then he saith, I will go into my house whence I came out ; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept und garnished. Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other spirits
, more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there ; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.-- For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heaventy gift, und were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, † if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.-He that despised Moses' law. died without mercy by two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath insulted the Spirit of Grace.--These, exclaims St. Jude, addressing the “ Methodists” of his time, in language of unparalleled brilliancy and sublimity, these were spots in your love-feasts :-- clouds without water, carried about of winds, trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots ; raging waves of the sea, FOAMING OUT THEIR OWN SHAME; WANDERING STARS, to whom is reserved
I * Matth. xii. 43, 45.-Heb.vi. 4, 6. X. 21, 29.-Jude, 12, 13. + These are the words Mr. N. applies to himself ; see above, p. 176.
I To satisfy Mr. N. that no personal or sectarian feelings have had any influence in our judgement of his case and his book (which are closely connected) and to console him with a conviction of its impartiality, whether it should gratify his vanity or not, we will assure him, that no person who is connected with the Methodists, or acquainted with him, has either written or read any part of this article. We sincerely hope it will never again be our duty to defend against so gross a calumniator, any society of zealous and exemplary Christians.
Art. XII. Original Poetry. By Mary Ward, 8vo. pp. 187. price 73. 6d.
Bath, Hazard and Co; Longman and Co, 1807. FAR be it from us to expect that bundles of approved images and senti
ments, intertwisted with gaudy words, tied together with legitimate rhymes, and packed up in the very best paper, should be sold for less than a penny a piece! But while we congratulate the subscribers to these poems on the cheapness of their bargain, we must also estimate their merit for the sake of the public. The fair author displays a portion of humour that may amuse, and of sensibility that may interest a friendly reader ; but from whatever cause, both these faculties appear very unwilling to shew themselves in public; in most of the compositions, there is an appearance of artifice and constraint, of effort in setting them to their task, and of reluctant feebleness in performing it. Many of the best written pieces are pretty highly seasoned with descriptions and sentiments of a tender cast; we doubt whether the lady's dexterity in fancying them if fictitious, or her frankness in publishing them if founded on actual incidents, will relieve her among the censorious from the imputation of a defect in point of delicacy. It is by no means an alleviation of this fault, in our opinion, that the same work contains poems and allusions of a strictly religious nature. Such a &qnnet to a Kiss should not come quite so near such an Invitation to Death.
We shall copy two of the shortest poems, which no doubt will satisfy the reader.
A LADY AT HER BROTHER'S TOMB,
• See yon lone turtle seek her mate,
See, swiftly o'er th' extended plain,
When sunny ray